ALBANY — After Tuesday night’s opening of theREP’s “Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors,” I looked up the origin of the word “silly.”
Sure enough, it’s from the German/Norse/Dutch bunch of tongues back in the day, originally meaning “happy” but, after some morphing, has come to mean what it does today.
Pulling off silly in public for 90 minutes ain’t easy, but director Gordon Greenberg and his team do it with aplomb. (OK, what could you do with that word if you were being silly!)
The script, by Greenberg & Steve Rosen, is a send-up of the old Bram Stoker novel, and just the way the Monty Python crew, Mel Brooks, or Charles Ludlam (he of “The Mystery of Irma Vepp”) have done, you only hurt the one you love. You have to know the genre whose nose you’re pulling inside out (well, not the nose: the genre), find the nooks and crannies of potential silliness to exploit with exaggeration, anachronisms, metatheatrics, puns, and a healthy dose of cross-dressing!
The story? Boy meets Girl. Boy meets Vampire. Vampire meets Girl. Vampire goes bonkers for Girl. Girl has standards even after she kisses the hunky Count. Vampire bites willy-nilly (whoever HE is). Girl rallies lantern-bearing search party to off Vampire. Boy weds Girl.
After you have a script with the pages in the right order, you must hire a fearless tech team. Every scene flows into the next, like some weird nightmare, so Rob Denton’s lighting design is properly spooky, and Victoria Deiorio’s collection of sound effects is worthy of Svengoolie.
The set needs to change in a trice: check, thanks to Tijana Bjelajac. Costumer Tristan Raines and wig-meister Michael Dunn have dolled up the company in proper Victorian style, with a special nod to their work on Mina. And praise be John Godbout’s stage management: you need someone organized to pull off chaos.
The quintet of actors is quick, queer, and quality! No moment is too small to make big. They know that we know that they know that we know, which is the most fun of all.
In alphabetical order: Kathy Fitzgerald hilariously strides the stage as the blustering and sexist Dr. Westfeldt and as psychiatric patient Renfield with the wild hair, in one episode being both simultaneously.
Dracula, David T. Patterson, is so handsome, muscular, balletic, and—well, adorbs, that you might give him a tumble even if you risked eternal damnation. This supple Dracula is always up on the furniture, ready to fly away for the next sexy blood bath. A charming performance!
Dan Rosales is delightful as real estate agent Harker, an earnest but timid young swain who gets his mojo before the end of the show. Rosales also scores in an amusing scene, with puppets, as suitors for Lucy.
And Lucy is superbly played by “Schenectady’s own” Cathryn Wake, the fierce, smart, and loving object of the affections of anyone who meets her. Wake also handles two other contrasting roles with humor.
As Lucy’s taller but lesser sister, Mina, Jeremy Webb hysterically flounces around the stage, swinging her red curls in search of a suitor, finally settling for the Count to disastrous effect. Webb is equally funny as no-nonsense Jean Van Helsing, female vampire hunter.
Any shortcomings? Nah. A moment here or there when “silly” simply wears, but in the next moment you’re back on board because of some fresh batty business. (I swear I saw a bit of “Gotcha!” between two actors on Tuesday, and it’s only the beginning of the run.)
Help yourself to Halloween humor!
‘Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 251 N. Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: through Oct. 23
HOW MUCH: $62-$22
MORE INFO: capitalrep.org, or 518-346-6204